After Leo Santa Cruz put on a boxing clinic in a third-round destruction of Victor Terrazas on Saturday at the StubHub Center, Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer was asked about a potential Santa Cruz-Abner Mares bout.
"That would be huge at Staples [Center]," Schaefer said.
There was a lot of anticipation in Southern California for a Santa Cruz-Mares fight, which would have matched two of the fastest rising stars in the sport.
Jhonny Gonzalez heard the talk, too, and he quietly seethed.
"They were treating me like a steppingstone for Mares and were making plans for a Santa Cruz fight before [he even fought] me," Gonzalez said.
And that turned out to be a bad decision.
Gonzalez scored the upset of the year with a crushing first-round technical knockout of the previously unbeaten Mares, dropping him twice and claiming Mares' WBC championship.
"At this moment, this is the single greatest and most glorious moment of my life," Gonzalez said. "When I came to the U.S. for this fight, no one gave me any credit. All they talked about was Mares fighting Santa Cruz."
The talk was for good reason, as the two were quickly rising up the ranks and were among the most skilled, and exciting, fighters in the game.
After Santa Cruz dismantled Terrazas on Saturday, it was Mares' turn to hold up his end of the bargain.
Mares, though, never got on track and didn't land a meaningful blow before being violently beaten up.
The first two minutes were almost completely uneventful, with neither man landing anything of significance. But with about a minute left in the round, Gonzalez landed a strong straight right hand. Mares took it well, but it was a harbinger of what was to come.
Not long after, Gonzalez decked Mares with a textbook left hook to the jaw. Mares was in obvious trouble this time, but courageously bounced up and referee Jack Reiss allowed him to continue.
The clock was running down in the round, and Gonzalez knew he had Mares hurt. He also knew Mares would be dangerous, and he had a decision to make: To attack and go for the early finish, or to play it cautious and not get caught with a Hail Mary from a desperate Mares.
After briefly considering his options as Reiss tended to Mares, Gonzalez knew what he had to do.
"I knew I had to go in for the kill," Gonzalez said. "I didn't want to let him survive. It was just a matter of time before he'd be knocked down again. People just didn't give me the respect I deserved."
Gonzalez entered the bout with 46 knockouts in 62 professional fights and a deserved reputation as a hard hitter, if not a slick boxer.
Mares found out the hard way it wasn't all talk. The Gonzalez win clearly derailed talk of aMares-Santa Cruz fight, and left Schaefer to consider his options.
"You just have to enjoy the fights," Schaefer said. "We all think we know what is going to happen. I was reading a story where The Ring picked 19 experts, probably some of you [ringside media] and asked who was going to win. All 19 picked Abner Mares.
"We think we know everything, but the truth is, we don't. And that is why boxing is so exciting."
Santa Cruz continued his upward momentum in the opener of the Showtime-televised doubleheader. He challenged Terrazas for the WBC super bantamweight title and put on a virtuoso performance.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jhonny Gonzalez
- Abner Mares
- Richard Schaefer
- Leo Santa Cruz